Living Debt Free
7 Problems with Debt
Ozeme J. Bonnette
Debt is one of the biggest concerns for the majority of families today. Most of us are thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. We often live from paycheck to paycheck, and we worry about paying our bills. In fact, many of us would not be prepared if an emergency arises. Worse yet, if we were to lose our jobs, we are just days or weeks away from bankruptcy.
With the media constantly telling us how much happier we will be once we own a certain kind of car or take that dream vacation, it is almost hard not to start believing it. We believe in buying now and paying later, but it's not in our best interest.
Debt costs more than most of us realize. Living debt free is much better. Here are seven problems associated with excessive debt.
The first problem with debt is that it presumes tomorrow. When we borrow, we are essentially telling our creditors that we will be here later on to pay the debt back. However, James reminds us, we're not promised tomorrow. In James 4:14, he tells us, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (NIV)
Debt also damages relationships. When we owe and cannot pay, we tend to start those avoidance behaviors that are common when we don't want to face our creditor. Family feuds may result. In the majority of divorces today, problems with debt and finances are partly to blame.
Loss of control
Debt causes us to lose control of our lives. Over 1 million people each year file bankruptcy. The Bible disapproves of bankruptcies and encourages us to pay back our obligations. Psalm 37:21 reads, "The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously." (NIV)
Loss of freedom
When we're in debt, we also lose the freedom of deciding how to spend the money we earn. We just go to work to pay someone else. Our paychecks are essentially gone before we bring them home.
The Bible disapproves of this behavior. Proverbs 22:7 compares debt to slavery. It reads, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender." (NIV) Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:23, "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." (NIV)
Debt denies us opportunities. Since our paychecks are going to our creditors, we lose out on being able to purchase things we may need. If an emergency, such as car trouble, were to arise, and we had no cash available to cover the emergency, we would end up getting deeper and deeper in debt.
It also denies opportunities for God. He blesses us with jobs so that we can use our earnings to take care of God's Kingdom and ourselves. But if we are living from paycheck to paycheck, how can we do anything to help someone who may be in need?
Takes trust from God
Debt takes the trust away from God. It doesn't allow God the opportunity to work in our lives. By purchasing things on credit, we are putting ourselves back in the driver's seat and taking the control away from God. We are telling God that we don't trust Him to provide those things for us or we don't trust His decision for us not to have those things.
Lastly, debt encourages the greedy part of us. In the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21), Jesus warned us about being selective in acquiring our wealth. Luke 12:15 reads, "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (NIV) We should focus on being rich toward God rather than rich toward things.
The Bible encourages us to be debt free. Romans 13:8 tells us, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." (NIV)
It's possible that learning how to manage and eliminate debt can help cut down on the number of divorces and bankruptcies filed each year, as well as reduce stress for everyone.
Ozeme J. Bonnette is a financial coach, speaker, and author. She began her career at Merrill Lynch, and now works to increase financial literacy. She teaches and speaks to groups and organizations throughout the U.S. She earned 3 Bachelor's degrees at Fresno State and an MBA at UCLA's Anderson School. She blogs at http://www.povertynorriches.com. Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.